The 2 traits leaders need to always make the right decision from Memorial Hermann's quality chief Dr. Angela Shippy

Angela Shippy, MD, stepped into her expanded role as senior vice president and chief medical and quality officer of Houston-based Memorial Hermann Health System in February.

Dr. Shippy has spent the past five years as Memorial Hermann's chief quality officer and continues to oversee clinical quality and patient safety efforts across the 17-hospital system.

Here, Dr. Shippy reflects on some of her proudest accomplishments, the best leadership advice she's received and future quality initiatives at Memorial Hermann.

Editor's note: Responses have been lightly edited for length and clarity.

Question: What accomplishment are you most proud of from your past five years as Memorial Hermann's chief quality officer?

Dr. Angela Shippy: One of the key areas I'm extremely proud of is the shift in focus from process measures to more outcomes-based measures. What we've collectively been asked to do in healthcare is move from asking, "Did you check the box or follow the guideline?" to instead looking at the overall outcome and impact on the patient. In the last five years, we've been working together to do that by taking all those processes and hardwiring them into our team. We then made sure everybody had the proper training and tools needed to ultimately ensure that our patients are leaving in the best possible health, whether in an acute care or ambulatory setting.

Now, each individual staff member can see that when they complete a particular evidence-based process, it in turn benefits their patients. And then it doesn't seem like an initiative, it's just part of what they do every day and the care they deliver. 

Q: What do you hope to accomplish in the next five years?

AS: There has been a lot of work in the patient safety arena. We've had some great success with improved clinical outcomes. What we've started to do and what I really want to continue is taking that same performance improvement methodology and using it on the operational side. I want to give all of our colleagues across the system the same training and tools to have better outcomes. Those outcomes are not necessarily direct clinical outcomes, but they are outcomes that affect the patient. For instance, if admitting representatives have tools at their disposal to help improve that process, then they just make it that much better for the patient. I really want everyone across the organization to speak the same performance improvement methodology language and put it to use to eliminate waste or anything that doesn't add value to patients.

Q: What is the best piece of advice you've ever received?

AS: I've worked with some really great people along the way. I'd say there are two big things that have always come out. One, you want to be completely transparent. And two, you always want to think about the patient. If you do both of those things, you will never make the wrong decision. Not saying it won't be hard work to get there, but as long as you're being completely open and honest with your team and maintaining focus on the patient, you will always get to the right solution.

Q: If you could solve one patient safety issue overnight, what would it be and why?

AS: We are not aligned across the entire healthcare industry. So many healthcare organizations and regulatory agencies have different goals and metrics. I'd like for us to come together, decide what we think is absolute best practice, define how to measure it and then invite everyone to be part of the solution. So that would mean all of us in healthcare, our patients and their families working together to ensure that we're getting the outcomes we're looking for. 

Because we're so disparate, it's making it that much more difficult to really come together to hold everyone accountable and know what good looks like. We really need to get to a point where that is no longer the case. I would say there has never been a better opportunity to get there than now. 

Q: Are there any other initiatives you are excited about in 2020 or beyond?

AS: I'm really excited about the fact that we recognize that our patients need multiple access points to care, whether that means clinics, hospitals or urgent care. But it also means we have our digital platform constantly expanding to meet them where they are. We're working every day to increase that access. 

We know that patients love being able to schedule online. They like being able to have a virtual visit when available. They like being able to pop into an urgent care facility in their neighborhood, as well as our clinics. It's going to be our challenge both at Memorial Hermann and as an industry to keep up with what patients are looking for.  


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